Princeton’s 20th annual Christmas Bird Count breaks record

Sixty-two bird species were counted in the 20th annual bird count, including two sparrows not usually seen in the South Okanagan in winter.

A Lincoln sparrow was spotted on the 20th annual Christmas bird count in Princeton. It's rare to see the little guy in the area during the winter.

A Lincoln sparrow was spotted on the 20th annual Christmas bird count in Princeton. It's rare to see the little guy in the area during the winter.

Princeton’s 20th annual Christmas Bird Count showed a record 62 species in the area, including two “very rare” winter migrants.

White-throated and Lincoln sparrows aren’t usually seen in the South Okanagan during this time of the year because the weather is too cold, but were spotted by bird-enthusiasts.

“This is the first time Princeton-CBC has gone over 60,” said count co-ordinator Madelon Schouten.

And there may be more to come once the missing feeder counts come in.

Seven field parties – with binoculars in hand – scoured Princeton’s trees and bushes on the morning of Jan. 2.

“Some observers skilled in reproducing owl calls had responses from a Saw-whet owl – the only one on the count – and a Pygmy owl,” Schouten said.

A Pygmy owl is one of North Americas smallest owls and isn’t shy, she added.

Bohemian Waxwings, Red Crossbills and Common Redpolls were seen is 75 per cent of the count circles. These birds are noticed during years when cone or berry crops are plentiful.

Collared Doves – a Eurasian species that has steadily advanced upon Princeton – were also spotted in Princeton. These light-grey or cream birds with black markings made their way west from the Kootenays, Schouten said.

A number of “raptors” were encountered, including bald and golden eagles, Rough-legged Hawks, Coopers Hawks, Merlins and Goshawks.

Beautiful bright-yellow American Goldfinches and Evening Grosbeaks were seen at feeders around town..

Bird counters came from Penticton, Oliver, Osoyoos and Vancouver to help with the record-breaking count.